As loyal Trekkers, hardcore Trekkies and potential new sci-fi lovers and space opera fans look to embrace a new chapter evolved from Gene Roddenberry’s iconic pop culture legacy, the series, Star Trek: Discovery, streaming on CBS All Access, we must recall: Author Arthur C. Clarke and Director Stanley Kubrick’s Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey came first.
Starship Clarke & Kubrick
Star Trek: Discovery’s co-creator Bryan Fuller’s on record saying naming the fictional starship is a nod to Kubrick, whose work Fuller deeply admires. “This ship is called the Discovery for a few reasons. Not the least of which is Stanley Kubrick’s contribution to the Discovery on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, NASA’s vessel the Discovery, and also the sense of discovery.”
Kubrick’s motion picture masterpiece of the imagination, 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968, the traitorous Hal 9000 computer is recalled, meticulously analyzed and joyously vilified, yet the space vessel housing the legendary villainous artificial intelligence, the Discovery, often is overlooked. The ship’s full, official name is actually Discovery One, yet most 2001 fans simply call it Discovery.
We’re sorry, Starfleet vessel Discovery, warping away on our cell phones, tablets and Rokus – you’re simply not the first sci-fi ship to go super space exploring with that enigmatic name. Also, there’s that little nagging thing we call reality. You know, humanity’s real life space exploration. NASA also named a space shuttle Discovery way back in 1984.
1968 saw two mega sci-fi explorers – one on the small screen, the other on the silver screen. Star Trek, the original series, featuring William Shatner’s cowboy diplomat, Captain Kirk, and Leonard Nimoy’s most logical Vulcan Spock, ran on broadcast television in its 2nd season. Arthur C. Clarke’s novel was transformed into a major motion picture by film auteur Kubrick. Was Kubrick, a celebrated cinematic intellectual and film visionary, a fan of Trek? Did he own a phaser or communicator? There’s no documentation the respected filmmaker was a Trekker at all – but it’s said he did love to watch television hits such as Seinfeld and The Simpsons.
One of cinema’s biggest sci-fi oriented directors – responsible for not only bringing 2001 to life, but crafting the story/concept behind Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” – never watched Trek in any incarnation? It seems highly unlikely, but there’s never been any firm confirmation of the American film director celebrating Gene Roddenberry’s outer space juggernaut.
Will Discovery’s intrepid crew worry about rogue A.I. threatening their safety, booby trapping them on the starship or sabotaging sensitive missions? Since they’ll be playing space cowboy and cosmic cowgirl in an era which is pre-Kirk, perhaps the ship’s computer will be ill equipped to be so clever, so sophisticated – so traitorous.
Stanley Kubrick’s landmark film 2001: A Space Odyssey will forever be linked to Star Trek. Discovery will fulfill its mission statement: To seek out strange new worlds… new life and new civilizations. Our bold Starfleet pioneers will try its best to live up to a powerful sci-fi legacy which produced multiple spin-offs, blockbuster feature films, novels, comic books, video games and other multi-media properties. Let’s hope this generation rises to the challenge. Let’s also fervently hope they never have a need to ever speak these fateful words, Open the pod bay doors, HAL……